It’s still very early in the minor league season, not quite three full weeks into the season. Despite that, there are some signs that we can look to and get some hope that some players are making improvements based on what they had done last season. Or in some cases, guys who are still struggling with similar issues they had last season.
Taylor Sparks is struggling right now for the Daytona Tortugas, hitting just .188/.268/.219. Despite that, we are seeing some good signs from Sparks. Last April he managed to walk just three times and he struck out 30 times. That’s a 10-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for those counting at home. With six days remaining this April he’s already walked seven times to go along with 17 strikeouts. The hits aren’t falling yet, but his approach seems to be much stronger this season, at least early on.
Amir Garrett is one of the top prospects in the organization, so it’s not necessarily a surprise that he’s performing well, but he’s been lights out for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos through four starts. He’s thrown 24.2 innings this April with a 1.46 ERA, no home runs allowed, four walks and 25 strikeouts.
Jermaine Curtis isn’t exactly a prospect of note, but the 28-year-old has been the best hitter in the organization this April. After last night, where he had two more hits for the Louisville Bats, the right handed hitter is now sitting in Triple-A with a .459/.588/.541 line with eight walks and just three strikeouts. He’s about as locked in as a hitter can be right now.
Jose Peraza was the Reds big offseason acquisition. He was a high contact rate hitter with big time speed. The 21-year-old is hitting .274/.328/.339 for the Triple-A Louisville Bats right now. It’s been an interesting start for Peraza, who has five walks and 11 strikeouts this season in 70 plate appearances. That’s good for a walk rate of 7.1% and a strikeout rate of 15.7%. On their own, those rates are solid, but for Peraza they both are outliers to his career. Since leaving A-ball, Peraza has had a walk rate well under 4% and his strikeout rate has been under 10%. His walk rate has nearly doubled and his strikeout rate is up nearly 50% from the previous rates from Double-A and Triple-A. Also just as surprising is that despite his outstanding speed, he has just one stolen base. He’s been caught stealing three times this year as well, but none of those actually were on attempted steals. He was picked off all three times, but just broke for second when the pitcher threw over.
2014 1st round pick Nick Howard isn’t having any more success in Daytona than he had last season. In the 2015 season he walked 50 batters in 38.0 innings before hitting the disabled list around mid-season. In 4.1 innings this year he’s walked 10 batters with just two strikeouts.